ASSOCIATED PRESS: Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain has cast himself as the outsider, the pizza magnate with real-world experience who will bring fresh ideas to the nation’s capital. But Cain’s economic ideas, support and organization have close ties to two billionaire brothers who bankroll right-leaning causes through their group Americans for Prosperity. Cain’s campaign manager and a number of aides have worked for Americans for Prosperity, or AFP, the advocacy group founded with support from billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, which lobbies for lower taxes and less government regulation and spending. Cain credits a businessman who served on an AFP advisory board with helping devise his “9-9-9” plan to rewrite the nation’s tax code. And his years of speaking at AFP events have given the businessman and radio host a network of loyal grassroots fans. […] While Cain is quick to promote his career at the helm of the Godfather’s Pizza chain, his ties to AFP aren’t something the candidate appears eager to highlight. Cain does not include his AFP work on his biography on his website, but spokesman J.D. Gordon said Sunday that Cain was “proud of his business record” and his association with the group. “He has made a lot of important connections through AFP,” Gordon said, pointing to Block and Lowrie, among others. And Cain continues to work with the group. MORE
RELATED: At two campaign rallies in Tennessee on Saturday night, Mr. Cain made repeated, detailed comments about his immigration policy, which he said would include building an electrified fence on the country’s border with Mexico that could kill people trying to enter the country illegally. But by Sunday morning, his tone had changed. “That’s a joke,” Mr. Cain said of his comments. “That’s not a serious plan. I’ve also said America needs to get a sense of humor.” Mr. Cain also found himself on the defensive on his tax plan when he addressed a Washington Post report that his 9-9-9 proposal would hurt many poor and middle-class families. Analysts say that those families pay little to no taxes under the current tax structure and would now pay both income and additional sales taxes under the plan. “Some people will pay more,” he said on “Meet the Press,” acknowledging that some people could face combined state and national sales taxes as high as 17 percent. MORE
RELATED: Koch Industries paid bribes in a half-dozen countries to secure lucrative contracts and sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran by making an end-run around the U.S. trade ban, according to a new exposé. Headlining the cover of Bloomberg Markets magazine’s November issue, the lengthy investigative report, titled “The Secret Sins of Koch Industries,” asserts that Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who are major backers of the tea party movement, are running a company embroiled in several scandals. MORE
THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR JUSTICE: The Koch Brothers, big tobacco, insurance companies, and the drug industry: all behind the shadowy corporate front group known as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). On the surface, ALEC is mostly comprised of thousands of state legislators, each paying a nominal fee to attend ALEC retreats and receive model legislation. In reality, corporations pay ALEC a king’s ransom to access legislators to distribute radical legislation that puts corporate interests over American workers and consumers. So, while the membership appears to be public sector, corporate money dominates ALEC. In fact, public sector membership dues account for only around one percent of ALEC’s annual revenues. ALEC claims to be nonpartisan, but its pro-corporate, anti-consumer mission is clear. Few have ever heard of it, but the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, is the ultimate smoke filled back room.
On the surface, ALEC’s membership is mostly comprised of thousands of state legislators. Each pays a nominal membership fee in order to attend ALEC retreats and receive model legislation. ALEC’s corporate contributors, on the other hand, pay a king’s ransom to gain access to legislators and distribute their corporate-crafted legislation. So, while the membership appears to be public sector, the bankroll is almost entirely private sector. In fact, public sector membership dues account for only around one percent of ALEC’s annual revenues. ALEC claims to be nonpartisan, but in fact its free-market, pro-business mission is clear.
The result has been a consistent pipeline of special interest legislation being funneled into state capitols. Thanks to ALEC, 826 bills were introduced in the states in 2009 and 115 were enacted into law. Behind the scenes at ALEC, the nuts and bolts of lobbying and crafting legislation is done by large corporate defense firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon. A law firm with strong ties to the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries, it has long used ALEC’s ability to get a wide swath of state laws enacted to further the interests of its corporate clients. ALEC’s campaigns and model legislation have run the gamut of issues, but all have either protected or promoted a corporate revenue stream, often at the expense of consumers. For example, ALEC has worked on behalf of:
- Oil companies to undermine climate change proponents;
- Pharmaceutical manufacturers, arguing that states should be banned from importing prescription drugs;
- Telecom firms to block local authorities from offering cheap or free municipally-owned broadband;
- Insurance companies to prevent state insurance commissioners from requiring insurers to meet strengthened accounting and auditing rules;
- Big banks, recommending that seniors be forced to give up their homes via reverse mortgages in order to receive Medicaid;
- The asbestos industry, trying to shut the courthouse door to Americans suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases; and,
- Enron to deregulate the utility industries, which eventually caused the U.S. to lose what the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) estimated as $5 trillion in market value. MORE
RELATED: Billionaire oilman David Koch likes to joke that Koch Industries is “the biggest company you’ve never heard of.” But the nearly $50 million that David Koch and his brother Charles have quietly funneled to climate-denial front groups that are working to delay policies and regulations aimed at stopping global warming is no joking matter. Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch have a vested interest in delaying climate action: they’ve made billions from their ownership and control of Koch Industries, an oil corporation that is the second largest privately-held company in America (which also happens to have an especially poor environmental record). It’s time more people were aware of Charles and David Koch and just what they’re up to. Greenpeace has released the report “Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine” to expose the connections between these climate denial front groups and the secretive billionaires who are funding their efforts. The Koch brothers, their family members, and their employees direct a web of financing that supports conservative special interest groups and think-tanks, with a strong focus on fighting environmental regulation, opposing clean energy legislation, and easing limits on industrial pollution. This money is typically funneled through one of three “charitable” foundations the Kochs have set up: the Claude R. Lambe Foundation; the Charles G. Koch Foundation; and the David H. Koch Foundation. MORE